Seoul. September 2023.
A notification pops up on my phone: “SEVENTEEN spotted at the airport departing. Destination: Rome.” It’s a twist of fate, I think. We are swapping places: I’m in South Korea, and they are heading to Italy.
But fate itself has a way of setting things right.
And so, here we are today.
Milan. January 2024.
Only a few months have passed since the recording of what we now know has been renamed Nana Tour, a show created by the renowned television producer Na Young Suk. Nana Tour is nothing but a variation created just for SEVENTEEN of the well-known “Youth Over Flowers” TV format, a show centered around the “backpacker” travel reality show where idols are “tricked” by the production and suddenly sent somewhere in the world. Born in 2014, the last season dates back to 2017 when Winner were unawarely sent to Australia.
Today, with the show in progress, we know that the SEVENTEEN variant sees Na PD in the unusual role of a tour guide on a journey that seems more like a reward vacation for the thirteen idols.
But how did we end up in Italy, especially seeing SEVENTEEN in such a program? We must first take a step back to “The Game Caterers 2,” a production also signed by Na PD for YouTube, during which the group members were asked to write on coupons their wishes that the variety show production could fulfill for them. Out of sixty blank coupons, SEVENTEEN drew the desire to participate in a custom-made edition of “Youth Over Flowers.”
Fast forward to early 2023. The work to bring the show to life begins. However, moving thirteen people and an entire crew and arranging a backpacking adventure were unthinkable. Hence the idea of rewarding SEVENTEEN and their hard work. But where to take them? To Europe, as they would like. And to a warm place that evokes the idea of holidays and offers history and many recreational and cultural activities. And so, the production’s choice: SEVENTEEN traveling between Rome and the valleys of Tuscany, touching – by sea – the Italian coast. In the first episode, we see Na PD plotting with S.COUPS, the group leader, who was injured and, therefore, unable to leave. He had the key role of deceiving his companions with Na PD, who were still unaware that they would be leaving for nothing other than the Italian capital in a few hours.
The mere fact of seeing JEONGHAN, JOSHUA, JUN, HOSHI, WONWOO, WOOZI, THE 8, MINGYU, DK, SEUNGKWAN, VERNON, and DINO freely strolling through the Italian streets, interacting with landscapes and situations that belong to our daily lives, can seem surreal. An absolute dream for Europe that often finds itself forgotten by World tours. Nana Tour has set a precedent that only SEVENTEEN could sign. After all, the group is known for its unparalleled and independent creative ecosystem.
But why do I speak of destiny?
Because a few weeks before the series aired, that missing piece of the puzzle I kept thinking about while I was in Seoul fell into place. And a few days later, I found myself talking to DK, DINO, and VERNON about their Italian experience in the first interview given by SEVENTEEN in Italy and exclusively to Panorama.
여러분 안녕하세요. 여기 있어 줘서 고마워요. (Translation: Hi guys. Thank you for being here.) Since I speak a little bit of Korean now, I want to test you on some Italian. Are there some sentences you have learned during your Nana Tour in Italy?
DK: Salute~! I learned how to say ‘Cheers’ in Italian, and I used it so much during ‘Nana Tour.’ We had a lot of fun together, just having a good time, eating great food, and making a toast whenever we had the chance.
DINO: Salute, and buon giorno! If you’ve seen ‘Nana Tour,’ you know what I am talking about.
VERNON: I think the lasting phrase would be ‘Salute,’ we used it so much during the tour!
Let’s dig into the trip. Nana Tour has been your first time off since debut. How does it feel to be on holiday all together for the first time ever?
DK: First of all, despite the fact that it was a very unexpected trip, we all had a good rest and had time to enjoy ourselves. I was so happy that the members and I had the opportunity to share a lot of beautiful memories in Italy.
DINO: It was our first time traveling in Europe together and it’s already become such a fond memory. The trip was even more meaningful because it was an opportunity to have a lot of conversations with the members. Although we work as a group, it can be difficult to sit down and have deep conversations. We were so true to ourselves throughout the entire trip, spending each day as we wish and voicing our feelings and thoughts just as they are.
VERNON: It’s not easy for all 13 of us to go traveling together, so I’m extremely grateful for the ‘Nana Tour’ team who made it happen. I think this trip has become one of the most cherished memories for all the members.
Since the first episode, it has been clear you guys are more than just teammates but really good friends, who care deeply for one another. We saw you being worried about THE 8, calling S.COUPS anytime you saw something exciting, and being happy to see WOOZI relaxing out of his comfort zone. Which member surprised you the most during this trip and why?
DK: I think that would be WOOZI (laughter). He doesn’t usually travel or get out much, but I can still vividly picture him enjoying and admiring the streets and sceneries in Italy more than anyone else.
DINO:I was actually surprised by WONWOO. It had been a very long time since I’d talked to him one on one, but he was so affectionate and caring. I’m happy that we got to spend a lot of time together during this trip.
VERNON: I’d have to go with WOOZI as well. If you’ve watched the show you’d already know, but he really opened up during our days in Italy.
In your first accommodation, you stayed all together, sharing rooms and recalling the time you were at the dorm. Is there something you miss about that time?
DK: I loved it because it was our first time sleeping together in the same room in a long time. It reminded me of our trainee days when we all slept in the same dormitory. I felt like an excited student on a school trip, it was so much fun.
DINO: There is a certain vibe and nostalgia to how we remember our trainee days, and for this trip, ‘clothes’ were what brought back those feelings for me. We didn’t bring our own clothes, so we had to share what we had with no one caring what is whose. I loved how it was as if we were back in those days when we would always borrow each other’s clothes and wait for each other’s turn to do the laundry.
VERNON: I’m actually the type of person who’s always content with the life I’m living right now, so I can’t really pinpoint a single memory. I think the trip with ‘Nana Tour’ is something that I’ll miss in the future.
Thinking about your discography, if you had to compose a playlist with your songs to summarize the trip, which would you choose and why? And do you connect them to some specific places or memories?
DK: There’s a song called “Holiday” and I think it’s a great song to listen to when you’re traveling or on vacation. I’d recommend setting off on an impromptu trip on your day off while listening to “Holiday,” just like we did!
DINO: I’d go for “Holiday.” We were all in a festive mood throughout ‘Nana Tour’ and every day was special on its own, which reminds me of this particular song.
VERNON: Right after our trip to Italy, we headed over to Hungary to film the music video for “God of Music.” Because we were in Europe throughout the entire period, “God of Music” instantly plays in my mind whenever I see the word ‘Europe.’
You visited Rome, the Tuscany countryside and the seaside and experienced many things. Which is the most memorable experience you had during the Nana Tour, and if you were to come back to Italy, what would you like to do?
DK:First of all, I loved the fact that I got to learn more about Italian culture. I really liked the place we stayed in Tuscany too, I loved every single moment we spent there and it has become an unforgettable memory. I’d like to take this opportunity to thank the ‘Nana Tour’ team for making this trip so memorable.
DINO:I think the ocean in Italy was one of the most beautiful I’ve ever seen. The waters were so clean and although I got to swim as much as I wanted, I’d definitely visit the beaches once again if I go back to Italy. I hope our CARATs will also have the chance to experience the Italian beaches for themselves, but even if you are not able to, I hope that our feelings of happiness during ‘Nana Tour’ were carried over to you and all those watching the show as well!
VERNON: My most memorable experience would be floating on the waters of Porto Venere. The sky was bluer than it could ever be with cliffs stretching out to the sea right underneath the sky, the almost-transparent cobalt sea with fish and jellyfish leisurely floating by, and the gentle lullaby of the waves… It was a new kind of serenity that I had never experienced before and it’s still etched in my memory.
I really have one last question: who are SEVENTEEN right now, and what should we expect from you in the next 12 months?
DK:After recharging ourselves through ‘Nana Tour,’ we are ready to push forward once again in 2024. As a tightly-knit group that we’ve always been, we hope to make the most of this year by further connecting with CARATs around the world through our music and performances. I hope all the CARATs and everyone reading this interview have a happy, wonderful year ahead of them.
DINO:I believe SEVENTEEN right now is still growing. We continued to achieve our ambitious goals last year thanks to our CARATs, so in 2024, we hope to reciprocate all the love we’ve received. I hope to reach new heights both as team SEVENTEEN and as an individual DINO, while introducing SEVENTEEN to many more people who haven’t discovered us yet.
VERNON: I feel that we’re starting to mature. I myself am excited and eager to find out what we’ll come up with over the next year. Please look forward to what’s coming next!
News broke yesterday that SEVENTEEN will hold, starting in Seoul, an encore of their latest tour. Three stops, one in Korea and two in Japan, which seems to be just an amuse buche of what will be waiting for us in the coming months in the glittering world that is CARATland.